6 US ser­vice mem­bers among the 11 dead in Afghanistan plane crash

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY LYNNE O’DON­NELL

A U.S. Air Force C-130J trans­port plane crashed overnight at an air base in eastern Afghanistan, killing six Amer­i­can air­men and 5 civil­ians, the U.S. mil­i­tary said Fri­day.

The crash hap­pened shortly af­ter mid­night Thurs­day at Jalal­abad air field, 125 kilo­me­ters (80 miles) from the cap­i­tal, Kabul, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Tony Wick­man, spokesman for the 455th Air Ex­pe­di­tionary Wing.

The six U.S. ser­vice mem­bers who died com­prised the plane’s crew. The pas­sen­gers were civil­ian con­trac­tors work­ing with NATO’s Res­o­lute Sup­port mis­sion and were the only pas­sen­gers on board, he said.

The air­men were as­signed to the 774th Ex­pe­di­tionary Air Lift Squadron, part of the 455th, Wick­man said.

The Tal­iban claimed they shot the plane out of the sky, but the group is prone to ex­ag­ger­a­tion.

A U.S. of­fi­cial, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the of­fi­cial was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the in­ci­dent pub­licly, said there was no in­di­ca­tion of hos­tile fire.

Wick­man also dis­missed the claim. “It is with high con­fi­dence that we can say it does not ap­pear that en­emy fire was in­volved,” he said.

Few other de­tails of the crash were avail­able but first re­spon­ders were at the scene and “an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause of the ac­ci­dent is un­der­way,” he added.

There are about 1,000 coali­tion forces in eastern Afghanistan, in­clud­ing U.S. and Pol­ish forces, as well as about 40,000 Afghan troops, ac­cord­ing to NATO.

There are also up to 35,000 civil­ian con­trac­tors across the coun­try.

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